Dragons win to close in on Swallows


Tony Blanco hit a tiebreaking solo home run in the eighth inning as the Chunichi Dragons edged the Hiroshima Carp 2-1 on Wednesday for their fourth straight win.

The victory, coupled with a Tokyo Yakult loss, pulled the Dragons within 3 percentage points of the Central League-leading Swallows.

Yudai Kawai (4-3) held the Carp to one unearned run and four hits over eight innings at Nagoya Dome. The left-hander retired 15 straight batters between the fourth and eighth innings.

Blanco connected off Hiroshima ace Kenta Maeda (9-11), who also yielded a leadoff homer to Yohei Oshima in the third. Oshima went 3-for-3 on the night.

“I’m so happy,” Blanco said through an interpreter. “I swung for the fence in that situation. I’m glad I helped the team win. Kawai pitched very patiently, keeping his pitches low. I hope we keep playing well and finish atop the standings.”

Takuya Asao pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his eighth save.

Chunichi has 14 games remaining in the regular season and Yakult has 13.

Tigers 3, Swallows 0

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Atsushi Nomi and two relievers combined on a four-hit shutout as Hanshin beat Tokyo Yakult.

Nomi (9-9) allowed just three hits in seven innings before Daiki Enokida and Kyuji Fujikawa took care of the rest. Tomoaki Kanemoto opened the scoring with an RBI single in the seventh off Shohei Tateyama (10-4).

BayStars 5, Giants 4

At Tokyo Dome, Brandon Mann (1-0) picked up his first win in Japan with six shutout innings as Yokohama held off a late rally by Yomiuri.

Yokohama built a 5-0 lead through seven innings before Hayato Sakamoto’s grand slam pulled Yomiuri within a run in the eighth. Shun Yamaguchi pitched the ninth for his 31st save.


Eagles 3, Fighters 1

At Sapporo Dome, Akihisa Makida drove in two runs as Tohoku Rakuten managed 10 hits off Hokkaido Nippon Ham ace Yu Darvish to win for the third time in four games.

Rakuten took a 2-0 lead in the fourth when Makida followed a Ginji Akaminai RBI single with a sacrifice fly. Makida added a run-scoring single in the eighth.

Lions 11, Buffaloes 6

At Tokorozawa’s Seibu Dome, rookie Shogo Akiyama hit a go-ahead two-run triple in the seventh inning as Seibu topped Orix to halt a four-game losing streak.

Hawks at Marines — ppd.

Orix, Taguchi to part ways


Orix Buffaloes outfielder So Taguchi said Wednesday he has been informed by the club that his services are no longer required.

“Yes, that’s true,” the 42-year-old former major leaguer said when he was asked to comment on a report in the Sports Hochi that he has been left out of the Buffaloes’ futures plans.